Thursday, December 18, 2008

FHA ANNOUNCES HOPE FOR HOMEOWNER'S


The United States Department of Housing has announced its' new Hope For Homeowner's Program which which may help people in distress from home mortgages that are currently overwhelming them. Please contact me personally if you have concerns. I may be able to put you in touch with some Connecticut lenders partipating in this program and perhaps find a way to save your home. Now wouldnt that be a nice holiday gift!
Details on the program can be found here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Being a Lawyer is "A punishing Way To Make A Living"

Norm's article struck me on so many levels. I paste it below verbatim for your reading.


Unsettling Phone Call From Panicky Client

I admire those lawyers who give out telephone numbers at which they can be reached both day and night. Me, I am unavailable after 7 p.m. There are no exceptions. This is a punishing way to make a living. Come sundown, I want to curl up with a good book, and then get some sleep.

So I was stunned the other night when my cell phone rang at the ungodly hour of 9 p.m. I worried that one of our three children was in trouble. I knew my wife wasn't calling; she lay beside me.

“Who could that be?" I asked, fumbling for the phone. Just a few weeks earlier, I had changed my cell phone number. Too many people had it. And too many were calling at all hours asking questions that demanded, in their view, immediate answers.

I knew this caller. She is a recent immigrant to the United States, just naturalized as a citizen. She and her husband are good people. They work hard, and hope sometime soon to start a family of their own.

She was frantic. The police had been to their home, a note from her husband said. He went to the station to talk to them. When she called the police station, officers said her husband was busy and could not talk. This had trouble written all over it.

I placed a call to the detective bureau.

“Yeah, he's here,” a surly sounding voice grumbled.

“I am his lawyer, and I want to talk to him.”

“He's busy right now. I'll pass that along,” the voice said.

“No,” I told him, “you'll do more than that. You will stop interviewing him now.” My wife put down the thriller she was reading, and was looking at me. This was real life. No need to turn a page to watch this.

I'm not sure what the cop said next, but I recall some bluster of mine that went like this: “It's now 9:10. The interview is over. If I find out it continued, I'll be wearing your badge next Halloween. Got it?”

A half hour later I still had not heard from the husband. I called the station back. A sergeant got on the phone. He apologized for Officer Charm, and I reciprocated: We both copped attitudes, I said.

The husband was to be charged with sexual assault on a minor. A warrant was about to be served. An interview had stopped an hour or so before I called. I wondered what pretext they used to hold the husband as the warrant was sought.

Not long afterward, he was arrested. His bond set at $150,000.

His wife went to pieces on the phone. At 10 p.m. I hear shrieks and sobbing. “What am I going to do? Help me, please help me.” I try to explain what a bond is, but I am not getting through. And then words that strike me like ice water. “But they are torturing him, I know it. You have to get him out of there.”

I am cynical about law enforcement. It is a product of 15 years litigating police misconduct cases. But the days of the rubber hose are long since past. I am not at all worried about this man's will being broken by violence.

But she is from South America. I try to imagine what assumptions she brings to a late-night detention at the police station. She wants to go to the station herself, to make her presence known, to be a witness against the state should they do violence to her man. I marvel at this response. Somehow, were my wife told in the dead of night I had been arrested for sexually assaulting a minor, I suspect I might need a jailer's bars for protection.

I had trouble getting to sleep. I know all the challenges this young family now faces. And I cannot shake the sound of desperate sobbing. When sleep comes, I am grateful for the measure of peace my wife and I share. It is fragile.

Norm Pattis is a criminal defense lawyer and civil rights attorney in Bethany.

Monday, November 3, 2008

19 traits of successful lawyers

These are taken, verbatim froma young lawyer's blog. I am in this place where I really want my firm to grow and be the best that we can be. I offer these up, as much for me as for you:


Never be satisfied with your level of development; always try to better than you were before.
Avoid comfortable situations. Do things even if you don’t like them, because you know they’re important.
Set goals. Don’t just feel you SHOULD do something, but rather that you MUST do it.
Don’t blame others. Resolve problems. Any setback is an obstacle that must be overcome.
Take risks. But take them with wisdom. Don’t take risks without planning. Evaluate and proceed with confidence and without fear.
Have vision. Develop the ability to foresee in your mind the results you want even before you start with your plan. Learn to see the beginning from the end.
Don’t be a slave to work. Make time to rejuvenate yourself, so you can be more productive.
Learn to handle yourself well under pressure. No one can have confidence in an individual who is always nervous and pressured.
Be objective. Don’t take failures personally.
Understand the nature of energy. If you apply sufficient force to a goal, progress will be made.
Learn to nurture. Build up and nurture others. Always leave things better than how you found them.
Become sociable. Enjoy being with others.
Become self disciplined. Don’t let habits, desires and failures control you, rather learn to control yourself.
Be courageous.
Have FAITH in yourself. Don’t doubt. Demonstrate your faith with actions and works.
Live in the present. Don’t live with yesterday’s laurels nor with tomorrow’s aspirations. Do your best NOW.
Forget about past errors. Don’t base today’s decisions on yesterday’s mistakes. Hope and live for today’s success and in the future.
Be quick to forgive, forget, and to keep going with on with life. This applies as much to yourself as with others.
Learn to stand on the shoulders of predecessors. Build on what others have done. Don’t destroy what others have done just advance your own agenda.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wait time statistics For Hartford Social Security Cases


NOSSCR reports the most recent processing time for hearings before an ALJ in Hartford is 375 days. That is 17th best in the Nation. To put things in perspective, the shortest wait time is in Houston at 283 days, and the longest is Chicago at 712 days---close to two years.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jim Pomeranz This Year's Pomeranz-O'Brien Award Recipient

Attorney James L. Pomeranz of Glasonbury's Pomeranz Drayton and Stabnick was the recipient of this year's Pomeranz O'Brien Award given by the Worker's Compensation Section of the Connecticut Bar to a member for their outstanding contributions to the field of worker's compensation law. The award was presnted to a standing ovation by those of us attending tonight's Worker's Compensation Section dinner meeting.

The award is named after Jim's father, the late Edward Pomeranz (for whom my own dad worked, many years ago) and the late Ed O'Brien, Sr., a great practitioner in the field of worker's compensation who also served the State as a Compensation Commissioner for many years before his death.

I have known Jim for 21 years in my practice of worker's compensation and can think of no finer recipient for this award. Jim has always been a true gentleman and scholar in my dealings with him, both as a friend and as an adversary. He is a rare breed in the practice of law today---a man who can be taken at his word.

My heartfelt congratulations to "Jimmy P" for this well deserved honor. Jim, you do the bar, and especially those of us practicing in the realm of worker's compensation law proud

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fifth Time in 6 Years


http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/news/gameday_recap.jsp?ymd=20080923&content_id=3533813&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=bos

CT Worker's Comp Commission Mandates Electronic First Reports Effective 2009

The Text of Commissioner Mastropietro's Memorandum reads as follows:


WCC Electronic Filing of First Reports of Injury Memorandum - September 17, 2008


MEMORANDUM NO. 2008-03

TO: Commissioners, District Administrators, Self-Insureds, Insurance Carriers, Attorneys, Unions, Legal Advisory Panel and Advisory Board Members
FROM: John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
DATE: September 17, 2008
RE: Electronic Filing of First Reports of Injury Mandated

Effective January 1, 2009 the Workers' Compensation Commission is instituting a policy that all First Reports of Injury filed pursuant to § 31-316 must be transmitted electronically to the Chairman's Office.

Prior to the effective date of the above policy, the Workers' Compensation Commission has accepted both electronic and hard copy submissions of First Reports of Injury. However, recognizing that business communications are now largely accomplished through electronic transfers, the Workers' Compensation Commission is mandating that First Reports of Injury be filed electronically with the Chairman's office. We believe this step will help reduce costs and will expedite the forwarding of information that may be necessary for claims processing. This will also allow us to better meet the mandate of Public Act 08-03, the new statute requiring notification of claim filing information.

Access to web based filing is an available alternative for low volume submitters.

In the event you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact this office.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Costs Increase Approved For certain WC Claim case exoenses

WCC Revised Professional Guide Memorandum - September 17, 2008


MEMORANDUM NO. 2008-05

TO: Commissioners, District Administrators, Workers' Compensation Advisory Board, Legal Advisory Panel, Medical Advisory Panel, Medical Practitioners, Self-Insureds, Insurance Carriers, Attorneys, and Unions
FROM: John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
DATE: September 17, 2008
RE: REVISED Professional Guide for Attorneys, Physicians and Other Health Care Practitioners; Guidelines for Cooperation

By memorandum dated September 27, 2002, the Workers' Compensation Commission adopted and issued the Professional Guide for Attorneys, Physicians and Other Health Care Practitioners; Guidelines for Cooperation.

The following revisions to the guidelines are effective October 1, 2008:


  1. Where appropriate, photocopy charges for physicians will increase to 65 cents per page;
  2. Deposition fees will increase to $500 per hour;
  3. Fees for Formal Hearing Testimony for the Treating Physician will increase to $550 per hour;
  4. Fees for Formal Hearing Testimony for the Employer/Respondent's Examiner will increase to $650 per hour.


THESE ARE COSTS THAT YOUR LAWYER INCURS IN REPRESENTING YOU IN A WC CASE. IT IS REASONABLE TO ASSUME THESE INCREASED COSTS WILL BE PASSED ON TO THE CLIENTS.

For your convenience, copies may be downloaded from (the Connecticut WCC) website at:

http://wcc.state.ct.us/download/acrobat/proguide.pdf



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Changes made Eliminating Revisions to medicare set-Asides

AttorneyAngelo Sevarino, the "Medicare Guru" for those of us in the field of WC law, has advised the Connewcticut Bar Association Worker's Compensation Section menbership of the following important update regarding Medicare set-asides.

"CMS has just released memorandum #11 dated August 25, 2008 and effective immediately it is no longer possible to petition CMS for a reduction or termination of an established set-aside. Previously we had the ability after 5 years to have CMS take a "second look" but that option is now" no longer available.

As always, if you think this change applies to your situation, feel free to contact the office.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Breaking: Connecticut District Court Judge Holds Portions of New Bankruptcy Law Unconstitutional

In a significant decision, a Connecticut Federal District Judge has ruled that portions of the revised Bankruptcy Act implemented in 2005 are unconstitutional. Specifically, Judge Christopher Droney has ruled that the requirement that attorneys designate themselves as "Debt Relief Agencies" is an unconstitutional restriction on the right of free speech.

The Bankruptcy Act provides that as attorneys, we are what Congress called "Debt Relief" agencies, and accordingly, we had to include the statement: "we have been designated by Congress as a 'Debt Relief Agency. We help people obtain relief from their debts through the use of the United States Bankruptcy Code." I have always thought this to be a bit of insanity codified, but that's just my Libertarian streak.

In Connecticut, at least, I have been proven correct.

In other parts of the Opinion, Judge Droney does rule that other portions of the revised Bankruptcy Act are Constitutional so it is not a total victory but at least it is a foot in the door.

The name of the case is Connecticut Bar Association, et al vs. United States of America. If anyone is interested, please contact me and I can forward them a copy of the decision at no charge.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Course And Scope Honored By Lexis Nexis


We have been advised by Lexis Nexis, the preeminent legal ranking firm that publishes Martindale- Hubbel, that Course and Scope has been designated as one of the top 25 Worker's Compensation Blogs the United States for 2008. Whoo hoo!

Medical Treatment: CRB Affirms Employer's Responsibility For Cardiac Evaluation Bills After Chest Injury

In March of 2005, Claimant Edit Pue sustained injuries while working to her shoulder, breast bone and rib cage. Her case was accepted by her employer as compensable.

Two weeks later, after experiencing chest pains, the Claimant presented to the Emergency Room where, hearing a complaint of chest pain, the ER docs set her up for a full cardiac evaluation---good medicine.

Sadly, the WC carrier did not see it that way and refused to pay the bills for this and several subsequent ER evaluations for chest pain.

At trial, the Commissioner ordered the respondents to pay for these bills. Thereafter the Employer appealed to our Compensation Review Board.

The CRB decision, released on August 22nd holds:

the fact that the medical personnel at (the ER) referred the claimant for a cardiac diagnostic work-up supports an inference that the referral was reasonable medical treatment. Such action was consistent with accepted medical procedures in instances where a patient complains of chest and left arm pain and should satisfy the statute’s requirements as to what constitutes reasonable and necessary medical treatment. That inference is further buttressed by the opinion of the respondents’ examiner, Dr. Edward Staub, indicating that when a patient complains of chest pain the proper medical protocol is to rule out a heart condition. See Findings, ¶¶ 33, 34, and X, Y, FF, GG. The claimant’s complaint of pain in her chest and related body parts was the causal impetus for the claimant’s visit to the ER. Those complaints were ultimately diagnosed as a medical condition causally related to her March 1, 2005 injury. It therefore logically follows that diagnostic testing consistent with established medical procedures to determine what was the source of claimant’s pain constitutes reasonable and necessary medical care.

Hooray for the CRB on this one, as this is a more frequent than you might expect scenario. The complete decision can be read here.

I've been a Bad, Bad Blogger

So Sorry to have been gone so long. I have been plagued over the past 45 days with unwanted health issues and a long overdue vacation. Between the two I have barely had enough time to keep myself above water never mind blog. Oh well. Back to it now!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Long Term Claimant Myopia

Claimants, Respondents and Commissioners should read this . This is the view of a good percentage of long term WC Claimants. This is not a healthy view, IMHO. This is a view of someone that does not understand the distinction between a legal case and getting on with ones' life.

2008 Worker's Comp laws Posted To Internet


The Worker's Comp Commission has provided a link that summarizes the new Connecticut worker's compensation laws that were passed by the General Assembly this past session. If you have any questions about these new laws or how they may affect your claim, feel free to call me for a free no obligation discussion of the present status of your claim.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Social Security Processing Times

The Spring Edition of Nosscr's Social Security Forum reports that the Hartford District Social Security Office ranks 29th in the nation with an average processing time of 386 days. New Haven is in 26th place at 383 days.

Harrisburg, PA ranks 1st at 296 days and Atlanta comes in last at number 146 with an average time of 838 days. Yikes!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ever get that Sinking Feeling?

Pitfalls and Pratfalls: Supremes Opinion Addresses Fall on Icy Sidewalk


In a good number of instances, a municipality will be liable to you for injuries you may sustain in a slip and fall on ice or snow on one of that town's sidewalks. Some towns, however, avoid that liability by enacting an ordinance that shifts the responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk from the town to the abutting landowner.

In Rivers V. New Britain our Supreme Court addresses the question: What if the adjacent landowner is the State of Connecticut which is immune from suit under the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

The answer, as anyone who has played "rock, paper scissors" may have guessed, is that in such an instance, the State is not liable even if the town has passed a liability shifting ordinance.

The Court held that if the State of Connecticut is the abutting landowner, then the municipality remains liable for upkeep of the adjacent sidewalk and they would be the proper party to bring the claim against.

The intricasies of personal injury law are a good reason to remember that if you sustain injuries as the result of another's negligence, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible.

I would be happy to discuss your matter without cost or obligation at any time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Landlords! Avoid Those Pesky PlumbingProblems

Those of us who rent property live in fear of the dreaded 1AM call: "my toilet is overflowing and wont flush."

With this handy form from the LPA, you can can tell your tenant that it's their problem and to call their own plumber in the morning.

Harsh? Maybe.
Effective? Dunno.

Give it a try and let me know how you make out.

New Fee Guidelines Take Effect

The Connecticut Worker's Compensation Commission has announced that a new version of the Practitioner Fee Schedule will go into effect for all medical services rendered after July 15, 2008. The WCC memorandum may be read in it's entirety here.

The Guidelines is an important thing for WCC claimaints to keep in mind, especially those who have left the State and are looking for medical treatment. The Guidelines establish, as a matter of law, how much a physician may charge an insurer for a given procedure in a CT worker's comp case.

Say, for example, you have moved to Florida and need a spinal fusion. Your surgeon in Florida says he will do it, but will charge you $15,000.00 That may be what you will pay, but in terms of valuing it for settlement, if the Fee Guidelines allow only $5000 for a spinal fusion, that is how the Respondent will value it, no matter what your Florida doc says it will cost. Unfair? Maybe, but that is why it is wise to consult with an experienced WC lawyer before deciding to leave the State with an open and potentially active WC matter.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Questionable Chiropracter's Reports and Bills Admissable, Supreme Court Holds

On July 15th the Connecticut Supreme Court will release it's decision in the Case of Rhode vs. Milla.

The Rhode case is a claim for personal injuries stemming from a rear end collision which occured in 2002 in Darien. The Plaintiff sustained injuries in the crash and sought treatment with a chiropractor in Fairfield County who was under criminal investigation for his questionable billing practices. At his deposition, taken by Milla's attorney in the personal injury case, the chiropractor asserted his 5th Amendmendment right against self-incrimination as a response to many of the defense lawyer's questions.

At trial, the Plaintiff introduced the reports and bills of the chiropracter over the Defendant's objection. The jury went on to decide the case where a verdict in the princely amount of #10,000.

In a questionable move, the Defendant appealed the decison which appeal ultimately wound up at the Connecticut Supreme Court. The Supremes have ruled that even though the Chiro took the 5th to many of of the questions posed to him, his reports and bills could still come into evidence on behalf of the Plaintiff.

In my opinion, this is a very good result. Just because the chiropractor is under criminal investigation, that does not mean that his bills or treatment given to any particular patient are any more or less suspect than those of any other chiropractor.
In this case, the chiropractor had not been found guilty of anything when he began treating the

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuck Fampa


Kudos to my pals at Surviving Grady for this gem of a photo from tonight's game at The Trop. These are clearly not your father's Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

This is Lawrence, Kansas. Is There Anybody There?

I picked up this little tid bit off of Amy Campbell's blog. Whodathunkit. Lawyers are slow to pick up on new marketing ideas such as...um...blogs.

Lawyers Slow To Embrace Blogs ABA Survey Says

Further Ruminations on Vasquez


Last Tuesday I posted concerning the soon to be released Connecticut Supreme Court Decision which held that New York worker's comp law applied in the case of a New York City landscaper killed in a car crash incidental to a job he was doing in Greenwich. In giving the matter additional thought, I think there is an important lesson to be taken away from the seemingly harsh result. The lesson is this: Sometimes, it really does make a difference where you file your worker's comp claim.

In Vasquez, the decedent was clearly killed in Connecticut, while working for his employer on a Connecticut job. Yet, rather than make a claim for benefits in Connecticut his widow (or more likely his widow's New York Lawyer) elected to bring the claim New York State's worker's comp forum. Now I do not profess to be an expert in NY worker's comp law. I have heard, anecdotally, that it is less forgiving and even more harsh than Connecticut's post 1995 Act but I don't have any first hand knowledge. What I do know now (that admittedly I did not know last week) is that NY worker's comp law does not allow a worker to sue a fellow employee for injuries sustained in the operation of a motor vehicle. Connecticut does.

In the Vasquez case, the election of NY Comp has now come back to haunt the decedent's family big time. Had they given the matter further consideration, or perhaps talked to one of our many skilled Fairfield County comp lawyers, they may have made a different choice with a happier result.

Hindsight is 20/20. My point is this: we are a small State. Often our workers travel to NYC or Massachusetts or Rhode Island for work. Or vice versa. And sometimes they get hurt.

Before blindly electing to proceed under a given State's Worker's Comp system, stop, take a breath, and think of the Vasquez decision. Then at least do yourself the favor of sitting down with two experienced worker's compensation lawyers---one from each involved State ---and discuss your matter in detail. Only then, with eyes wide open, will you know which is the best option for you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Breaking: Supremes Apply New York Law To Bar Recovery in Recovery In Greenwich Crash Death

In a decision due to be officially released on June 17th, the Connecticut Supreme Court has upheld a trial court decision concluding that New York Worker's Comp Law was the applicable standard to apply in connection with a June 2001 crash in Greenwich which took the life of Juan Rocato Brito, a New York City resident that was employed as a landscaper doing day work in Greenwich.

Had Connecticut law applied, a third party liability claim over and above a worker's comp claim could have been pursued under the "motor vehicle exception" of our Worker's Compensation Act providing the possibility of a far larger financial recovery than a worker's comp case alone can provide. New York WC law provides no such motor vehicle exception and since the Court has concluded that NY WC law applies here, then the Brito estate is left without any recovery over and above the comp case.The complete decision can be read here.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Despite Favorable Votes by the Labor Subcommittee, Connecticut WC Reforms Die on the Vine for 2008

The Connecticut General Assembly adjourned its 2008 legislative session without passing any of several workers' compensation bills that were opposed by the insurance industry, the American Insurance Association reported in a session end press release.

“Overall, AIA is very pleased with the outcome of the session,” said Laura Kersey, Northeast Region assistant vice president. “The industry was successful in defeating a number of proposals that would have had a negative impact on consumers and insurers. We feel strongly that the decisions made by the General Assembly this session will ultimately benefit workers throughout the state.”

The AIA said several "adverse proposals" would have significantly increased workers' compensation costs and undermined the workers' compensation reforms that the state enacted in 1993. For example, Senate Bill 255 would have greatly increased potential permanent partial disability (PPD) benefit payments in a state where PPD awards already are very high and well above the national average, the group said. In addition to the benefit increase, the legislation would have also created disincentives for injured workers to return to work in a timely and appropriate manner as well as increased the number of disputes within the system and costs associated with those additional disputes, such as attorney fees and medical-legal expert costs, according to the AIA.

The AIA said House Bill 5626 would have destabilized Connecticut's workers' compensation system by negating the exclusive remedy protection by allowing the injured worker to bring a civil action against the workers' compensation insurer for alleged breach of good faith and fair dealing in the administration of claims.

Source: AIA

New York Court Cites Exclusive remedy Provision to Limit Recovery in Changing Room Distress Claim


A New York appellate court denied a worker's motion to amend her complaint against her employer who allegedly videotaped her as she changed into her uniform, because workers' compensation exclusive remedy would preclude her from alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress against her employer.

An employee of the Northeast Theatre Corp. sued her employer after discovering that the business had videotaped a room in which employees frequently changed. The worker, Shinell Thomas, sued the employer alleging violation of her civil rights. She sought to amend her complaint in trial court to add a claim under General Obligations Law Section 395-b, which describes the unlawful installation of viewing devices such as cameras and mirrors.

The trial court granted Thomas' motion to amend, but on appeal, the 1st Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court reversed that decision.

The appellate justice explained:
"Although section 395-b has been held to set forth a duty that may serve as a basis for a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress (citation), any such claim would be barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Workers' Compensation Law (citation). To the extent plaintiff also claims that defendants acted intentionally to inflict emotional distress, any such claim would be barred by the one-year statute of limitations."

The published decision is named Thomas v. Northeast Theatre Corp., No. 3752N, 5/29/08.



Source: WorkCompCentral

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Oversupply of Lawyers? This Recent Grad Would Say Yes!

A recent law graduate wrote to the Washington Post about a frustrating and unsuccessful search for a first job.

"I'm growing desperate,” the job seeker wrote. “I've sent out 330 résumés to the Hill, feds, nonprofits, trade associations, campaigns and law firms. I've even applied for bartending and waiting tables, only to be told I'm overqualified. What do I do?”

Career Tracks columnist Mary Ellen Slayter suggested the law grad needs to “think quality, not quantity” and focus on networking through professional associations or a school alumni group.

“Completing a single federal job application can take a full week, so I have a hard time believing you're putting the right level of effort behind pursuing jobs at carefully selected employers,” Slayter said.

Above the Law posted the exchange and offered its own comments, saying it wasn’t terribly impressed by Slayter’s advice. On the other hand, the blog said, it can’t think of better suggestions in what is shaping up to be a “grim” job market.

Some of the blog’s readers suggested seeking a contract job doing document review, applying for jobs in other geographic areas, and volunteering to work for a judge.

Summer Job Season is Upon Us: A Time for Teens To Be Careful


In a few weeks, millions of teens will be joining the work force, many for the first time. For most, nothing out of the ordinary will occur, but for about 70, their jobs will be lethal. About every three minutes, a teen is injured on the job. Worksafe BC has compiled the true stories of four ordinary kids whose first jobs proved devastating. In this series of short, compelling video clips, each teen tells the story of their injury, how it happened, and how it has affected their lives. The teens' parents also talk about things from their perspective. The clips are graphic, frightening, and real, and demonstrate just how quickly something can go wrong. They should be mandatory viewing for employers who hire teens, for teen workers, and for parents of working teens.

John's story - how 16-year old John Higgins broke his back in a forklift accident.
Jennifer's story - how 19-year old Jennifer Fourchalk lost three fingers, which were caught in dough-making equipment in a pizzeria.
Michael's story - how 18-year old Michael Lovett lost a leg when sucked into machinery in a sawmill.
Nick's story - (raw language alert) - how 19-year old Nick Perry became paralyzed when crushed by lumber in a lumberyard.

Some of the common themes in the stories:

* Enthusiasm. These kids badly wanted to please and impress bosses and co-workers and to do a good job. The teens didn't want to ask for help or to appear unwilling to do what was asked of them - they wanted to be mature and good work contributors.
* Inexperience. The teens seemed unaware of the power of equipment they were using and the potential for injuries. Jennifer didn't realize how powerful the kitchen equipment was. Michael seemed unaware that he could refuse to engage in unsafe behaviors, like jumping off dangerous equipment. They appear to assume that dangers were just an inevitable condition of the work.
* Lack of training. None of these teens had been properly trained in the equipment they were using nor had they received basic safety practices and procedures, such as lock out/tag out. All of these injuries might have been prevented had the workers been trained and had machine safeguards been in place. John actually emulated unsafe practices he had observed other workers doing.
* Working alone. In most of these examples, the teens were not being supervised when the injuries occurred.
* Regretful parents. Parents assumed employers would look out for their kids. Several parents expressed initial misgivings about the jobs their kids had taken. Many expressed regret that they hadn't looked into the work conditions more.

New Faces Continue as Two New Commsioners Join Our Ranks

The Connecticut Worker's Compensation Commission has recently welcomed its two newest members to its ranks. Commissioners Daniel Dilzer and David Schoolcraft have begun work recently and are presently in training to preside over dockets of their own. Both Commissioners come from extensive hands on practice experience including worker's compensation and I am sure they will both make fine additions to the Commission. We wish them well as they begin their new adventure.

The Worker's Comp Commission press release on its newest members may be read here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

State's Medicaid Lien Rights Remain Sacred in Upcoming Supreme Court Decision

The Connecticut Supreme Court has held, in a case being released later this week, that the lien rights that the State of Connecticut can assert against the proceeds of a personal injury or worker's compensation case remain a formidable force to be reckoned with. In State vs. Peters The Court has concluded that the State of Connecticut has no obligation to itself pursue an action against a tortfeasor to recover Medicaid sums paid to or on behalf of a recipient injured as a result of that tortfeasor's wrongdoing. The Court has further concluded that it would be improper to reduce the state's lien in a proportionate amount equal to the attorneys' fees paid by the Medicaid recipient.

While this may sound confusing, what it all means, in a nutshell, is that the State's lien against one's PI or WC case, needs to be addressed in the same fashion as we have been doing for some time.

If you have been injured on the job or through the fault of another, and you are a recipient of benefits from the State of Connecticut, then be well aware that the State has a lien on the proceeds of your case to get it's money paid to you back. There is a formula they must follow as set out by Statute and we as your lawyers will do our utmost to maximize your recovery in these situations. If we may be of service, please feel free to call.

The entire Peters decision may be read here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

No No For Lester


Props to Sox starter and cancer survivor Jon Lester for hurling the Bosox 18th no hitter this evening. A nicely done testament to the fact that even in the face of catastrophic injury or illness YOU CAN get back to your former self with hard work and determination. We can all take a lesson. Nice job, Jon.

Full story here.

WC Mileage Reimbursement Rate Rises to 50.5 cents

The mileage reimbursement rate for all travel expenses incurred on or after March 19, 2008 is now 50.5 cents per mile. This rate increase applies to all claimants, regardless of injury date, and coincides with the federal mileage reimbursement rate pursuant to Section 31-312(a) of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Our Worker's Comp Commission has published a helpful compendium of reimbursement rates throght time and may be viewed here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

3.4 Million verdict overturned as Supreme Court decision addresses construction accident issues

The Connecticut Supreme Court will be releasing a decision of the 20th of this month in the case of Archembault vs. Soneco/Northeastern, Inc., et al, This decision, which revolves around a construction accident in which an employee of Soneco is seriously injured in a trench collapse, speaks to the duties of the general contractor on a job site to provide a safe work enviornment. The Court has determined that that the trial court's instruction to the jury that the general contractor on a job site has a non-delegable duty to provide a safe work site was erroneous and has ordered a new trial overturning the jury's 3.4 million dollar award. There are many nuances regarding the interplay between a GC and a subcontractor on a construction project. We will study this decision and determine a course of action so as to best represent our clients in these relatively common scenarios.

The decision may be read in its entirety here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Law Library Now Offering RSS Live feed

The Connecticut Law Libraries are now offering a tremendous resource to attorneys and the public alike in the form of their newly redesigned Newslog. The Newslog provides up-to-the-minute information on the latest Connecticut Supreme Court decisions, neatly indexed by category for your researching and browsing pleasure. The Newslog can be accessed here and is well worth a look. It is available as a live RSS feed for those so inclined.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You're Not Just imagining It: Connecticut in "Top Ten" of State Foreclosure rates


LOS ANGELES (AP) - The number of U.S. homes heading toward foreclosure more than doubled in the first quarter from a year earlier, as weakening property values and tighter lending left many homeowners powerless to prevent homes from being auctioned to the highest bidder, a research firm said Monday.
Among the hardest hit states were Nevada, Florida and, in particular, California, where Stockton led the nation with a foreclosure rate that was 6.6 times the national average, Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac Inc. said.
Nationwide, 649,917 homes received at least one foreclosure-related filing in the first three months of the year, up 112 percent from 306,722 during the same period last year, RealtyTrac said.
The latest tally also represents an increase of 23 percent from the fourth quarter of last year.
RealtyTrac monitors default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions.
All told, one in every 194 households received a foreclosure filing during the quarter. Foreclosure filings increased in all but four states.
The most recent quarter marked the seventh consecutive quarter of rising foreclosure activity, RealtyTrac noted.
"What would normally alleviate the foreclosure situation in a normal market is people starting to buy properties again," said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac's vice president of marketing.
However, the unavailability of loans for people without perfect credit and a significant down payment is slowing the process, he said.
"It's a cycle that's going to be difficult to break, and we're certainly not at the breaking point just yet," Sharga added.
The surge in foreclosure filings also suggests that much-touted campaigns by lawmakers and the mortgage lending industry aimed at helping at-risk homeowners aren't paying off.
Hope Now, a Bush administration-organized mortgage industry group, said nearly 503,000 homeowners had received mortgage aid in the first quarter. Most of the aid was temporary, however.
Pennsylvania was a notable standout in the latest foreclosure data. The number of homes in the state to receive a foreclosure-related filing plunged 24.4 percent from a year earlier.
Sharga credited the decline to the state's foreclosure relief measures, noting that cities such as Philadelphia put in place a moratorium on all foreclosure auctions for April and implemented other measures aimed at helping slow foreclosures.
Nearly 157,000 properties were repossessed by lenders nationwide during the quarter, according to RealtyTrac.
The flood of foreclosed properties on the market has contributed to falling or stagnating home values, yet lenders have yet to implement heavy discounts on repossessed homes, Sharga said.
Nevada posted the worst foreclosure rate in the nation, with one in every 54 households receiving a foreclosure-related notice, nearly four times the national rate.
The number of properties with a filing increased 137 percent over the same quarter last year but only rose 3 percent from the fourth quarter.
California had the most properties facing foreclosure at 169,831, an increase of 213 percent from a year earlier. It also posted the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country, with one in every 78 households receiving a foreclosure-related notice.
California metro areas accounted for six of the 10 U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates in the first quarter, RealtyTrac said.
Many of the areas - including Stockton, Riverside-San Bernardino, Fresno, Sacramento and Bakersfield - are located in inland areas of the state where many first-time buyers overextend themselves financially to buy properties that have plunged in value since the market peak.
"California still hasn't hit bottom," Sharga said. "We have a lot of California homes that are in early stages of default that may not be salvageable because either there's no market or financing available, or both."
Arizona had the third-highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 95 households reporting a foreclosure filing in the quarter. A total of 27,404 homes reported at least one filing, up nearly 245 percent from a year ago and up 45 percent from the last quarter of 2007.
Florida had 87,893 homes reporting at least one foreclosure filing, a 178 percent jump from the first quarter of last year and a 17 percent hike from the fourth quarter last year. That translates into a foreclosure rate of one in every 97 households.
The other states among the top 10 with the highest foreclosure rates were Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and Connecticut

Associated press Reporting Spitzer call Girl Suing "Girls gone Wild" Wunderkind for 10 Million

MIAMI (AP) - The call girl linked to the downfall of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer sued the founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" series on Monday for $10 million, claiming he exploited her image and name to advertise the racy videos.
Ashley Alexandra Dupre, 22, contended in the lawsuit that she was only 17 - too young to sign legally binding contracts - and drunk on spring break in 2003 when she agreed to be filmed for "Girls Gone Wild" in Miami Beach.
Dupre "did not understand the magnitude of her actions, nor that her image and likeness would be displayed in videos and DVDs," says the lawsuit filed by Miami attorney Richard C. Wolfe.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami names as defendants "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis, two of his companies and a man purportedly involved in creation of two Internet sites that the lawsuit contends improperly use Dupre's image to sell DVDs and other products.
Francis, 35, has built a soft porn empire filming and marketing videos of young women exposing their breasts and being shown in other sexually provocative situations, often at public events such as Mardi Gras or spring break beach locales.
Dupre gained notoriety in March when it came out that she was the high-priced call girl named "Kristen" named in court documents who was hired by Spitzer for at least one tryst at a posh Washington hotel. Spitzer, known as "Client 9" in the documents, resigned as New York governor a few days after the scandal broke.
Francis made a public $1 million offer for Dupre to appear in a "Girls Gone Wild" video and go on a promotional tour, then rescinded the offer after he realized he already had footage of Dupre from 2003. Dupre's lawyer warned she was only 17 when the video was shot, not 18 as Francis claimed.
Francis said in March that Dupre spent a week on a "Girls Gone Wild" bus and made seven full-length tapes after signing release papers. He also said he bought her a bus ticket home to North Carolina.
Francis said he was surprised by the lawsuit.
"It is incomprehensible that Ms. Dupre could claim she did not give her consent to be filmed by Girls Gone Wild, when in fact we have videotape of her giving consent, while showing her identification," Francis said in a statement.
He said the photos were taken "in front of a room full of people, including two newspapers and multiple crews we had in the room." Francis also said he would be happy to discuss the $1 million offer with her again.
The lawsuit claims Dupre is the victim of unfair trade practices, false advertising and unauthorized use of her likeness.
Francis is no stranger to legal problems in Florida. He spent a year in jail and was released in March after pleading no contest to child abuse and prostitution charges for filming underage girls in the Panhandle beach town of Panama City. Four women who claim they were 17 or younger when filmed have filed lawsuits there against Francis.
Francis also faces federal tax evasion charges in California. Prosecutors say companies controlled by Francis claimed more than $20 million in phony deductions in 2002 and 2003 and that Francis used offshore accounts to conceal income

Don't Try This At Home

Our odd news story of the week comes from San Francisco where the Chronicle reported that a landlord, angered over losing an eviction case against his tenant: cut the support beam under the house hired workers to cut a hole in the living room floor from underneath the house, and cut the tenant's electric and phone lines. Needless to say, the landlord has been charged with a number of crimes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

6th Edition of AMA Guidelines A Source of Confusion as to Chiropractic



We in the worker's comp world are well aware of the role the American Medical Association (AMA) Guidelines for the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment play in our daily lives. It is upon this tome that injured workers in Connecticut are adjudicated their just due under section 31-308 of our General Statutes. Unfortunately, as with so many things, the new issue of the "AMA Guidelines" can raise more questions than it answers.
When the AMA published the Sixth Edition of its Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, it contained new language that restricted chiropractic evaluations to the spine only. The restriction drew sharp criticism from the American Chiropractic Association. In a letter to the AMA, the ACA questioned the legality of restrictive language related to evaluations by doctors of chiropractic and accused the AMA of violating the permanent Wilk injuction.


The AMA responded by issuing a correction. The Guide will state in relevant part that: "Impairment evaluation requires medical knowledge. Physicians duly recognized by an appropriate jurisdiction should perform such assessments within their applicable scope of practice and field of expertise." AMA will be mailing out the correction and future publication of the Guide will contain the corrective language.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Med Student's Death Prompts Reminder in Rights of Pedestrians in Roadwary

The Hartford Courant is today reporting that a 27 year old Yale Medical School Student was struck and killed by an automobile as she attempted to cross South Frontage Road in New haven on Sunday morning.

This tragic accident reminds me that the laws concerning the use of the highway by a pedestrian or not as pedestrian friendly as you might think.

In many States, a pedestrian always and absolutely has the right of way when he or she enters a roadway. All vehicular traffic has to yield the right of way.

In Connecticut, a pedestrian has the right of way over a motor vehicle ONLY when that pedestrian is in a crosswalk. If for some reason the pedestrian attempts to cross a road at a point other than a crosswalk, then the law is going to favor the operator of the motor vehicle. This harsh result surprises many people yet it is the primary reason lawyers are careful to accept death and injury cases resulting from pedestrians being struck by cars on a roadway.

If you need to cross, do so in a marked crosswalk if at all possible. If you or someone you love is injured as a pedestrian, feel free to call me for a careful, individual analysis of your particular situation.

James F. Aspell

Monday, April 14, 2008

Governor Rell Appoints Two More New Worker's Comp Commissioners

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell has named Daniel Dilzer and David Schoolcraft to the state Workers' Compensation Commission.
Advertisement
Upcoming Webcast!

Dilzer, 41, is a lawyer with the New Britain-based law firm Davila & Dilzer. He serves serves on the State of Connecticut's Victim's Compensation Commission and has served as a Commissioner of the New Britain Housing Authority, the Berlin Board of Ethics and the Berlin Charter Revision Commission.

Schoolcraft, 51, is a lawyer with the Rocky Hill-based Law Offices of Donna-Maria Lonergan. He serves as chair of the Hebron Board of Selectmen, and also serves on the board of Andover, Hebron, Marlborough Youth Services, Inc.

Dilzer and Schoolcraft will be sworn in following approval from the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee and will serve on an interim basis, pending confirmation by the General Assembly.

"Both Dan and Dave have had many years of experience in legal matters, and over those years they have acquired the skills needed to serve as Workers' Compensation commissioners," Rell said. "These two attorneys are prepared to uphold our workers' compensation laws and administer justice in a fair and thoughtful manner. Their knowledge of local and state government provides them with a valuable perspective for this role."

Source: Connecticut Governor's Office

Monday, April 7, 2008


DOVER — - Three teenagers were injured shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday, when their SUV slammed into a rock and then crashed against a utility pole, police reported.

The driver, Dustin Balula, 18, sustained a broken leg; passenger Natalie St. Germain, 18, sustained cuts to her forehead; and passenger Michael Ciurylo, 17, sustained serious leg injuries, including a broken femur, state troopers reported.

Life Star flew Ciurylo to Hartford Hospital; ambulances took Balula and St. Germain there. Early Sunday, hospital staff reported that Ciurylo, of Columbia, was undergoing surgery.

St. Germain, of Windham, was in stable condition late Sunday, and Balula, of Columbia, had been treated and released, the hospital said.

The crash was reported at 4:48 a.m. on Route 6 near Burnap Brook Road. Balula was driving east when he veered off the right side of the road and crashed, Trooper Paul Arigno wrote in an accident report.

Troopers from the Colchester barracks were investigating, and had not publicly commented on any possible cause for the crash.

Huge Decision affecting disabled worker's in Connecticut

The Connecticut Supreme Court has issued a critically important decision concerning what reasonable accommodations an employer must make for an injured working before terminating him. The full text of the article which I am providing appears in the Connecticut Law Tribune.

Attorney Rick Hayber, referred to in the article is my go to guy for all labor law issues. If you have been injured on the job it is critical you speak with an informed worker's compensation lawyer. Call me today to discuss your situation.

The Article in question:
Disabled Workers To Benefit From Decision

Employer must discuss solution, or firing is wrongful

By THOMAS B. SCHEFFEY

The state Supreme Court ruled Monday that even though Connecticut’s Fair Employment Practices Act doesn’t include the “reasonable accommodation” language of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the same principle applies.

Furthermore, unless the employer engages in at least an informal dialogue with a disabled employee, he or she can’t just be fired.

“Although this court never has addressed whether [FEPA] imposes a duty on employers to provide reasonable accommodation to their disabled employees, the question has been addressed by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities,” Justice Joette Katz wrote for the unanimous court. The CHRO’s decisions, for the past 12 years at least, have recognized such a right for disabled workers, as have trial court decisions.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that employers can defend themselves against discrimination suits by showing that a job requires specific occupational qualifications. Nevertheless, the justices found, employers using the bona fide occupational qualification defense still must show that they tried to find reasonable accommodations.

“[O]ur thorough review of the legislative history reveals a consistent intent to increase protections for individuals with disabilities,” and to stamp out discrimination based on physical and a wide range of other disabilities, the court wrote.

A great majority of states have found a reasonable accommodation requirement in their antidiscrimination statutes, often through judicial interpretation, and the high court joined it.

Injured Back

The plaintiff, John P. Curry, was a truck driver for Allan S. Goodman Inc., an East Hartford liquor distributor. He injured his back, and was allowed to work in the warehouse filling “split” cartons with various brands.

The work occasionally required stocking supply shelves from unopened boxes, which weighed more than Curry’s doctor said he should lift. After a rancorous dispute over job duties, Curry was dismissed for being unable to do his work.

Curry’s lawyer for the past seven years has been Richard E. Hayber, of Hartford. Two days after Curry’s firing, Haber wrote to the former employers and asked for a discussion. “I said ‘please.’ He wanted his job back, he didn’t want a lawsuit,” said Haber in an interview. In light of today’s decision, he said, “Writing that letter was the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”

The company had an internal policy that light duty work could only be temporary. When Curry subsequently sued for wrongful discharge, he contended Goodman’s policy represented illegal discrimination against the permanently disabled.

The company’s failure to even consult with the former employee about a possible reasonable accommodation in the warehouse was itself grounds to get Curry a trial, Hayber argued.

On a motion for summary judgment, Goodman lawyers argued that the company cannot be required to create new permanent jobs for the disabled. Hartford Superior Court Judge Robert F. Stengel granted summary judgment for the company.

The Supreme Court reversed, concluding that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Curry was able to work, so summary judgment was improper. Curry was able to work 10-hour shifts when he was discharged, and even though he couldn’t lift full cases, he could load bottles into an empty carton and move it on a hand truck, almost as fast.

Goodman was defended by Glenn A. Duhl and George J. Kelly, Jr., of Hartford’s Siegel, O’Connor O’Donnell & Beck, who could not be reached at press time.

“I’m so happy for my client,” said Hayber. “John’s a poster child for Connecticut workers who break their backs for their employers, and then get cast out without even a conversation over the phone. This case says that’s just not right.”•

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Importance of a timely Notice of Claim

I often wax on with my old saw, "the employer will not make the claim for you." The Employer's "First Report of Injury" does nothing to satisfy your burden as regards the making of a claim in a Connecticut Worker's Comp case. You or your attorney MUST file a Form 30C with the employer and the WCC in the manner prescribed by statute.

In this case, the IW sustained what was later determined to be a heart attack which was mistakenly diagnosed as a shoulder injury. Because he did not file a proper claim alleging a cardiac event, he was out of luck.

It is so important that if you on the job injury is anything more than a garden variety "no lost time" case, you consult an experienced Connecticut worker's Compensation Attorney.

James Aspell

Welcome To Our Newest Connecticut Worker's Compensation Commissioner

Attorney Christine Engel has taken the helm as Connecticut's most recent Commissioner appointee. Before joining the Commission, Attorney Engel had years of experience practicing worker's compensation law here in Connecticut, primarily representing injured workers.

I had the good fortune to meet Commissioner Engel this morning in Waterbury. Having no previous dealings with her as an attorney, I was thrilled to find her on top of her game and knowledgeable in the ins and outs of our worker's comp system. She is a great addition to our ranks and I look forward to her input on future claims.

If you or someone you know has been killed or injured on the job in Connecticut, feel free to call me for a candid discussion of your rights.

James Aspell

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Be Honest. How Often Will you See "Lawyer" and "Miss Cleo" in the same sentence

Berlin Speeding Tragedy Leads to Lengthy Jail Time

A New Britain man convicted in a crash that killed five people was sentenced to 79 years in prison Wednesday.

Kevin Cales, 34, who has an extensive criminal history, was accused of chasing his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend Maryneliz Jimenez on Chamberlin Highway in Berlin in May 2006. She had four passengers with her and prosecutors said speeds reached more than 100 mph. Her car hit a grove of trees and split in half before bursting into flames.

Something like this is just such a pointless loss. 5 people are gone and one young man will spend the rest of his productive life behind bars. There is nothing that can really make this situation right. The loss of a loved one under circumstances like these will however, in addition to criminal penalties, provide legal grounds for a civil lawsuit to recovery monetary damages for your loss.

If you have any questions about traffic accident injries or deaths, feel free to contact me for a free discussion of your matter.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Speak Now or Forever Hold your Peace

For all of you that are certain you know how to do the law thing better, well here is your chance. I don't ever want to hear a "No one ever asked me" again.

Consider yourself asked.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


As a middle aged white guy, I'm going to go out on a limb here and tell you that I honestly feel the "race thing" in this country has gotten completley out of hand. Now we're criticizing magazine covers because evidently some think a select few feel that this Vogue cover is stereotypically racist.

Maybe I'm an idiot but I look at it and don't see King Kong. I see Lebron in all his NBA badness saying something like, "That's right Leo, Gisele's with me now and look at her smile..."

If it were white-as-can-be Larry Bird instead of Lebron James on the cover, I'll bet a lot more folks would agree with me.

There is a reason people distrust insurance companies


I got a call today from a prospective client. He had been in an accident about a yera ago by an elderly woman who was insured by "A" company. Although some time had passed, he is still treating for neck and back injuries sustained in the crash.

He got a call from the adjuster at "A" who told him that the Statute of Limitations was about to expire and since he had not settled, she was closing his file. Knowing this was an outright lie, the guy called the adjuster's bluff and called me. The statute of Limitations for straight negligence in Connecticut is two years, not one.

Now, "A" has a lawsuit on their hands and their elderly client will have to go through the pain and anguish of a court case.

Had "A" treated my client fairly, I am quite sure he never would have had to call me.

You reap what you sow

Monday, March 24, 2008

That and 50.5 cents will get you a mile in your Connecticut Worker's Compensation case

For all you mileage loggers, please note that the rate for mileage reimbursement for all comp related appointments has risen to 50.5 cents per mile.

As always, if you are one of my clients, please make a note of the date, miles traveled, and the purpose of the trip. Doctor's appointments, PT and IME's are covered. Trips to the drug store to fll your Rx are not. Get your miles in to me so that I can begin the battle to get you reimbursed.

Any questions on this, feel free to call or shoot me an email at JFAspell@AspellLaw.com

James aspell

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Your Connecticut Legislators Are Hard At Work


You know, it's not like we actually have any significant legal issues in this state. Like say, an eminent domain policy that is the laughing stock of the nation. Or a property tax scheme that is squeezing people out of their homes. Or a ridiculously regressive business climate.

Nah, life is good here in Connecticut. Our legislature can while the days away debating elephants, and clothes lines, and returnable water bottles and oh yeah, this gem.

I can think of nothing more important than pardoning, or whatever this hearing intends to accomplish, some good folks accused of witch craft some 300 years ago. No question, this one should be at the top of any legislators "to do" list.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rental Move-Out Checklist

Our Friends at TLPA have provided us with this sample move out check list. It is my positon that these should be used in all cases to avoid any confusion.

Jim

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Good Week

As many of you know, I now do a lot of Chapter 7 bankruptcy work. It is good for cash flow and I truly enjoy helping people out of their jams. But this week, it got to me. I saw so many good people who were losing their homes or who were in some awful financial straights it started to depress even me. But then came Thursday.

On Thursday I had 6 worker's comp hearing in different districts, all involving files that were new to me since opening this firm. 6 files, 3 districts, 6 great results. It was one of those days when everything went right. The Commissioner's actually agreed with my arguments and I was able to get some much needed relief and help for my Connecticut Worker's Compensation clients as well as make a few buck for myself in the process. Doing good by doing good.

In my line of work, that's as good as it gets.

And that is why I love being a Connecticut worker's compensation lawyer.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Reprint from this month's landlord protection Agency Newsletter

The Secret Career Killer Facing Real Estate Investors
By John Nuzzolese
So, you want to be a real estate investor? You are probably thinking the way I did when I started as a real estate investor. I thought the most important objective was to buy as many properties as possible. Well, I was only half right.

As an investor in residential real estate, being able to purchase properties that will allow you to make money is paramount. While there are various methods you can use to make your real estate fortune, the two most common plans are quite simple.

Buy and flip. This is when you purchase a property and sell it for a higher price. Many investors will find “Handyman Specials” or “Fixer Uppers” at a low price to improve and sell at a higher price. Sometimes you are fortunate enough to find an excellent opportunity requiring little or no work, only to resell for a quick and easy profit. Although this is a common way to make money in real estate, many investors choose not to sell their investment property.

Buy and hold. This is when the real estate investor becomes a landlord in order to enable the investment property to generate income. Holding onto the property is also a way to allow the investment to appreciate in value over time. Why? The demand for residential real estate continues to grow and people are willing to pay top dollar for a place to live. What can be better than that? You have an asset appreciating in value plus you also have a tenant to pay your expenses on the property. You may even have a positive cash flow.

So what is "The Secret Career Killer Facing Real Estate Investors"? Before I answer that question, let me ask you,


What happens when you put investment properties together with tenants?

You get a landlord tenant relationship. I wish I realized the ramifications earlier.
Tenant problems are the one of the biggest reasons, if not, the biggest reason most landlords quit investing in real estate and sell their rental properties way before benefiting from one of the best features of owning real estate: appreciation.

It is just as important to learn the secrets of landlord protection and property management as it is to know how to accumulate rental property. Let me say it another way: Without knowledge of landlord protection, you as a landlord, are in big trouble!

Think about how much money people spend on books, seminars and trial and error learning about buying real estate. It’s incredible! I invested so much money learning creative ways to buy property. How about you? How much have you invested learning to be an efficient landlord? Most landlords learn their lessons the hard way like I did. Fortunately, now there are some books and websites on landlord topics that can shed some light on the subject and allow average landlords and “Newbies” to become educated and aware of their legal rights concerning landlord – tenant relationships.

What good is struggling and sacrificing to own a lot of properties only to bail out because of overwhelming tenant problems?

Get educated in the art of “landlord protection”. Learn how to avoid tenant problems so you can keep buying more investment property.

The three most important landlord issues to learn about for your own protection are:

Screening and Tenant Selection

I always say, “95% of tenant problems can be eliminated in the screening process!" It really is so true. A lot goes into screening a tenant properly, so try not to jump into any lease agreements without doing your homework first. The article, How to Screen Tenants in 5 Easy Steps will help you break down what to do when it comes to screening your potential tenants. The idea is to make the screening process as simple as possible for you while helping you to eliminate the unqualified prospects and focus on the more promising ones.


Using a solid landlord lease

One of the keys to a good landlord – tenant relationship is having both parties involved come to an understanding and agree with the terms in the rental contract. All too often we hear of and see tenant problems that could have been avoided if only the parties had used a better lease agreement. The problems usually stem from an issue that the lease should have covered, but did not. Most of the traditional leases are designed to make both parties happy, especially the tenants. Conventional leases are politically correct not to offend tenants and often leave the landlord wide open and prone to problems with the tenancy. Unless the landlord takes steps to protect himself in his lease agreement, the law will offer the tenants a strong bundle of rights giving them a legal advantage.


Lease Enforcement

Even with the greatest lease agreement in the world, a landlord faces a myriad of potential tenant problems. Enforcing the lease has to start the moment you sit down with the tenant at the lease signing. I know you may still be in the negotiating stage on certain items concerned in the lease, but enforcing the lease begins here. Reading the entire lease, clause by clause, emphasizing topics that are important to you reinforces your terms from that point on. Later on, when lease infractions occur, you must be prepared to jump on the issues professionally and immediately. Having the proper landlord forms to enforce your lease is essential. Using forms to correct tenant problems is both professional and efficient because you are creating an official record on paper of your legal communications concerning the events at hand. From an Urgent Late Notice to a more serious Eviction Notice served properly on a tenant, the landlord projects a far more professional image. The objective of the lease enforcement forms is to squash small tenant problems quickly and professionally before they develop into full blown disasters, while snapping the tenant back in compliance with your lease agreement.


If you have experienced the unpleasant part of being a landlord which includes loss of rent, possible foreclosure, loss of sleep, confrontations with unreasonable tenants, expensive repairs and restoration, vandalism, theft, squatters, evictions, legal fees, you may have had to consider if it's all worth it or not. Many new new investor / landlords decide quit the landlording business soon after a bad tenant experience.

As a real estate investor who intends to be a landlord and enjoy that excellent long term appreciation, it is absolutely imperative to have some landlording knowledge. I strongly recommend having more landlord tenant knowledge than your tenants do!

Happy investing and landlording!

About the author:
As a Real Estate broker / investor in New York, John Nuzzolese has been involved with rentals and investment property since 1979. Besides owning and operating two real estate businesses, he is president and founder of The Landlord Protection Agency, Inc. , an organization specializing in helping landlords and property managers avoid the hurdles and pitfalls and expensive blunders common when dealing with tenants.

More information on The Landlord Protection Agency is available at www.theLPA.com

Monday, March 3, 2008

Legal Specs

And Now a word from Our sponsors


You can find great local West Hartford, Connecticut real estate information on Localism.com Jim Aspell is a proud member of the ActiveRain Real Estate Network, a free online community to help real estate professionals grow their business.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's Still Location Location Location

As we head into the Spring Real Estate market (yep it is almost March) it is important to keep some important tips in mind when listing your home for sale. This post by a Minnesota real estate agent offers tips that work well for those of us on this coast as well.

Friday, February 15, 2008

For What it's Worth

The State of Connecticut Judicial Branch is offering up a survey for those of us of the common ruck to participate in. I have taken the survey and would urge you, dear reader, to do likewise. For all of my gripes about Connecticut, I do feel that the Judicial Department does its best to do right by us citizens.

Take the survey. I think it will be read.

I'm off to Florida for a (much deserved :)) week of R&R.

Catch ya on the other side, dawgs.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Mainstream Media begins to Note SSD Backlogs

As a member of NOSSCR, I have rerpresented individuals in their quest for Social Security DisabilityBenefits since 1986. Anyone who has an even passing familiarity with this system knows that the backlog and roadblocks thrown up to thwart those seekinging SSD and SSI benefits are daunting. At last, the media is begining to sit up an take note. This video aired by CBS news nicely illustrates the realities of the situation.

The average wait in Hartford is 440 days for a hearing.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bankruptcy and your Meeting of Creditors

Reprinted from Jill Micaux's blog: Her advice is right on and is in keeping with what I have seen asked here in Connecticut.


What Will They Ask Me at My Bankruptcy Hearing?

Fellow blogger Susanne Robicsek told you what to expect at your meeting of creditors, nicknamed your 341 hearing. What will the trustee ask me, you wonder?

Here is the list of questions your trustee is required to ask you and a list of sample questions your trustee may ask you depending on the facts of your case. The hearing is not a test nor an inquisition, it is a fact finding meeting. according to fellow blogger Cathy Moran. If you have any questions about answering any of these questions, you should discuss them with your attorney prior to your 341 hearing. QUESTIONS THE TRUSTEE IS REQUIRED TO ASK YOU AT YOUR BANKRUPTCY HEARING (341(a) MEETING OF CREDITORS)

1. State your name and current address for the record.

2. Please provide your picture ID and Social Security number card for review.

3. Did you sign the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents and is the signature your own? Did you read the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents before you signed them?

4. Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements and related documents? To the best of your knowledge, is the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents true and correct? Are there any errors or omissions to bring to my attention at this time?

5. Are all of your assets identified on the schedules? Have you listed all of your creditors on the schedules?

6. Have you previously filed bankruptcy? (provide trustee with case number and the discharge information to determine discharge eligibility in this case)

7. What is the address of your current employer?

8. Is the copy of the tax return you provided a true copy of the most recent tax return you filed?

9. Do you have a domestic support obligation? To whom? Please provide the claimant’s address and telephone number, but do not state it on the record. Are you current on your post-petition domestic support obligations?

10. Have you filed all required tax returns for the past four years?

SAMPLE QUESTIONS THE TRUSTEE MAY ASK YOU

1. Do you own or have any interest whatsoever in any real estate? If owned: When did you purchase the property? How much did the property cost? What are the mortgages encumbering it? What do you estimate the present value ofthe property to be? Is that the whole value or your share? How did you arrive at that value? If renting: Have you ever owned the property in which you live and/or is its owner in any way related to you?

2. Have you made any transfers of any property or given any property away within the last one year period (or such longer period as applicable under state law)? If yes: What did you transfer? To whom was it transferred? What did you receive in exchange? What did you do with the funds?

3. Does anyone hold property belonging to you? If yes: Who holds the property and what is it? What is its value?

4. Do you have a claim against anyone or any business? If there are large medical debts, are the medical bills from injury? Are you the plaintiff in any lawsuit? What is the status of each case and who is representing you?

5. Are you entitled to life insurance proceeds or an inheritance as a result of someone’s death? If yes: PIease explain the detaiI s. If you become a beneficiary of any one’s estate within six months of the date your bankruptcy petition was filed, the trustee must be advised within ten days through your counsel of the nature and extent of the property you will receive. FRBP 1007(h)

6. Does anyone owe you money? If yes: Is the money collectible? Why haven’t you collected it? Who owes the money and where are they?

7. Have you made any large payments, over $600, to anyone in the past year?

8. Were federal income tax returns filed on a timely basis? When was the last return filed? Do you have copies ofthe federal income tax returns? At the time of the filing of your petition, were you entitled to a tax refund from the federal or state government ? If yes: Inquire as to amounts.

9. Do you have a bank account, either checking or savings? If yes: In what banks and what were the balances as of the date you filed your petition?

10. When you filed your petition, did you have:

a. any cash on hand?
b. any U.S. savings bonds?
c. any other stocks or bonds?
d. any certificates of deposit?
e. a safe deposit box in your name or in anyone else’s name?

11. Do you own an automobile? If yes: What is the year, make, and value? Do you owe any money on it? Is it insured?

12. Are you the owner of any cash value life insurance policies? If yes: State the name ofthe company, face amount of the policy, cash surrender value, if any, and the beneficiaries.

13. Do you have any winning lottery tickets?

14. Do you anticipate that you might realize any property, cash or otherwise, as a result of a divorce or separation proceeding?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Foreclosure filings on the rise


Findlaw is reporting today that in 2007, foreclosure filings rose by 75% over previous years. This is a grim statistic that I have not seen since the late 80's. If you find yourself in such a situation there are a few options available to you and I would be happy to sit down with you and go over them. Be it a short sale, a refinance or a bankruptcy, your response to an imminent foreclosure can go a long ways towards improving your life down the road. Please do not be afraid to call me. I am associated with a strong network of professionals that I can turn to the hep you through your given situation. I truly believe lawyers are here to help people and will be happy to talk to you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lawyer Joke

Lawyer Joke!

Smiley_faceA man dies and goes directly to Hell. While he is milling around, he spots another man who he recognizes as a lawyer, and the lawyer is snuggling up to a beautiful woman.

"That's totally unfair!" he protests to the Devil. "I have to burin in Hell for all eternity, and that lawyer gets to spend it with a beautiful woman!"

"Silence!" barks the Devil, jabbing with his pitchform. "Who are you to question that woman's punishment?!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Santana Headed for Queens, not the Bronx


About the only thing that would have struck fear in my heart going into the 08-09 baseball season would have been the prospect of left handed ace Johan Santana in pinstripes. Thankfully, that does not appear to be coming to fruition as it appears he has inked a deal with the Mets.

As an added bonus, the Santana deal appears to set the stage for another season of "Elsbury and Elf" and "John Lester, Comeback Kid." Two of my ATF shows on Remy Vision.

Just when you think Man has Stooped as Low as he can go

This is truly a sad story on so many levels. The fact that the defendant is an attorney only makes the taste in my mouth that much worse.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Man's Home is .... Losing Value?


As the Winter drones on, our colleagues at Findlaw are reporting that new home sales continue to drag.

This news, together with all the other water cooler gossip going on would lead you to believe this may be the end of the world as we know it. Fear Not! Sure, things have slowed down, but by and large I have not seen any wholesale drop in the Connecticut real estate market. Interest rates are very competitive and seller's are motivated. It's a good time to "back up the truck" as Peter Lynch is fond of of saying.

My point is this: it's all how you look at it. If you are selling, you may not make a killing, but your home will sell. Eventually.

If you are buying, smile, get a great rate, and call me so we can get your closing scheduled.